Shakespeare Summer camp...

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by Jacen McCullough, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    Maryland
    I'm unbelievably hyper right now. Two months ago, I applied to the Teaching Shakespeare Institute through the Folger Shakespeare Library.

    http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=2511

    It's a nationwide thing, they only accept 25 teachers and I've only been teaching for 3 years. The application was very involved (essays, multiple letters of rec, resume, etc). I got word this afternoon that I GOT IN!

    I'll be spending 4 weeks this summer with access to the Folger collection and a group of fellow teachers and top Shakespearean scholars (some of whom reach idol-status with me). The gravy on all of this is that it's a program sponsored through the National Endowment for the Arts, and it comes with a $3,000 stipend for living and travel expenses for those 4 weeks. The cherry on that gravy is that I have LOADS of relatives in the DC area, and I won't need to spend that stipend on living expenses (it can go to the new car fund)!!

    I've been geeked out all day. Just felt like sharing with like-minded literature dorks. :)
     
  2. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

    Jan 2, 2004
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well done. Congratulations! :)
     
  3. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

    Oct 11, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Ipswich Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Congratulations. This sounds great. In fact, it sounds so great that I think I'll apply for 2009. I've never heard of this program, but it sounds like something I'd really enjoy. It also sounds like something I may have experienced over the course of the last several years.

    I've done a lot of this, so I'll have to check to make sure it's not a repeat of things I've already done... but then again, I'd like to do it all again.

    I have been very involved with professional development activities at Chicago Shakespeare Theater for years. It's been life-changing, and I hope this is for you as well.
     
  4. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Man! That is majorly awesome. My wife got into a program of theirs a decade back, but she wound up going to the Milton Institute that summer instead (that worked out okay too). You'll be busy as hell, but I doubt you'll mind.
     
  5. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    Maryland
    Let me know if you do. I'll send my contact info if you wanted to use it as a reference (former participant refs seem to carry weight based on their website). Also, what grade do you teach, Iceblink? I've spent the better part of 3 months working on a brand new Shakespearean speeches unit that you might dig if you teach 10th-12th. I designed it to make the Bard accessible to lower level and reluctant readers. It still needs to be majorly proofed, but I can probably mail you a disk with the curriculum and resources if you want it.
     
  6. Via_Chicago

    Via_Chicago Member

    Apr 1, 2004
    Bay Area, California
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That sounds totally awesome. Congrats! As a prospective future teacher myself (albeit in history), I'm always stoked to read about people as excited about education as I am. Again, congrats!
     
  7. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

    Oct 11, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Ipswich Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    I'd love to see it. I normally teach 11-12... that's Macbeth and Hamlet. I'll PM you. That'd be great.

    As for references, we'll see if they like you! If you drop Yorick's skull and crack it or scream "Macbeth" in the theater every day for fun... then I'm not using you as a reference!

    BTW... did you hear about Teller's (of Penn and Teller) Macbeth at the Folger? It sounded amazing. I wish it'd come to Chicago.

    BTW... did you watch "Slings and Arrows" at all? Such a great show.

    I'll PM you my info.
     
  8. DoctorD

    DoctorD Member+

    Sep 29, 2002
    MidAtlantic
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    He was a closet Catholic and most of his plays are secret messages to the remaining Catholics in England. ;)
     
  9. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Thanks for reminding me of a ************ book that I had successfully managed to forget.

    ;)
     
  10. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Happy Shakespeare's birthday to everyone!

    Well, we don't know for sure, this is just a guess. If you have to be a stickler for details, you can celebrate the birthday of Vladimir Nabokov instead.
     
  11. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    Maryland
    OK, I'm back and suitably recovered (I caught what we all dubbed "The Shakespeare Plague").

    This past month has been an UNBELIEVABLE experience. Life changing. I already miss being in DC and practically living at the Folger. I don't have a ton of time at the moment (I still have to prep for the GRE, wrap up some things I worked on last month, and get my curriculum in order for my new 12th grade courseload), so I'll talk about the first week now and hit the other three weeks later.


    I got to the front gates of Georgetown Sunday afternoon and was immediately struck by just how beautiful the campus was. I hauled my suitcase and geek-gear around the corner (my mom drove me down to DC and she seemed to think it would look bad if I got dropped off to camp by mom :) ). There were Folger people and other participants standing around somewhat awkwardly. Nobody really spoke to each other that much, regardless of how much the Folger folks tried to be open and friendly.

    When most of the group had arrived, we walked across the street to the apartments/dorms that we were going to live in. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed in the living arrangements. Location wise it was perfect, but it was a dorm room. I had a small room and my roommate had a small room. There was one dingy bathroom, a small living room and a kitchen with a stove that looked like a failed attempt at making a bomb. I didn't expect the Ritz, but the housing took up $1700 of my stipend, and with two of us in there, that means we paid $3,400 for one month in a ratty dorm room. It stuck me as a bit absurd.

    My roommate, Mike (we had 5 Mikes, forcing us to come up with clever nicknames), is a 40-year old first year teacher, which was really cool. He'd served in the military and then worked as a truck driver for a long time in New York. We had about three hours free until the opening reception, and Mike and I spent that whole time just talking about lit and teaching and where we were from (instead of being productive, unpacking and getting groceries, something we would regret later).

    The opening reception was in a dining room on the Georgetown campus. They had cheese and fruit and we played some icebreaker games (walking around giving Shakespearean compliments to each other and such). We paired off and interviewed one of the other people there, and then took turns introducing our interviewee. I was partnered with one of the acting coaches, a completely fascinating woman named Caleen Jennings.

    After the reception, we all went back to the rooms and crashed. Monday morning, we had a tour of the Georgetown campus from our Georgetown intern, Deidre. We got the stuff we needed to connect to the net and then it was time to get on the bus. Let me tell you about the bus. Every morning, we piled onto a yellow school bus that took us to and from the Folger from Georgetown. For some inexplicable reason, when you put a bunch of teachers on a bus, they tend to act just like kids. The bigger trouble makers sat in the back of the bus (guess where I sat :) ), and we generally acted like goofballs. Our bus driver, an impeccably well dressed guy named Albert, nearly drove off the road a few times when we had him laughing really hard. More on the bus later.

    The first week was spent working with The Taming of the Shrew. I had never read this play before the TSI, and it has become one of my favorites. Each day began with a lecture by either one of our in house scholars or a visiting scholar. Our in house scholars were Margaret Mauer from Colgate University, Stephen Dickey from UCLA and Jay Halio from the University of Delaware. Our first lecture was from Dr. Gail Kern Pastor, the head of the Folger herself. The lecture topics were intriguing and focused on all sorts of different scholarly approaches. Dr. Pastor did an analysis of the play based on the four humours and their application to gender. Dr. Halio did a close reading in which he argued that Petruchio didn't beat down Kate's personality, but rather revealed her true personality. Dr. Mauer did a textual comparative analysis, showing how the comparison of Shakespeare's play with the Folio and "The Taming of A Shrew" could reveal much about Bianca. Overall, these lectures were ambrosia. I couldn't get enough.

    After each day's lecture, we went to one of three seminar groups (each week we were with a different scholar's seminar group). In seminar we were able to further discuss the play and the lecture of that day.

    After the seminar, we did lunch. Some days we had lunchtime colloquials where we would have lunch ordered into the board room and eat with a distinguished visiting scholar or teacher. Other days we were left to our own devices. On those days, we quickly found the two best places for lunch near the Folger- Coci's and Gandell's. Coci's had great salad's, while Gandell's, a liquor store, had exceptional sandwiches. By the last week, we were all broke and tended to bring lunch and eat on the front steps of the Folger. We were sort of like informal employees. We'd just start randomly teaching people on their way out. This is what happens when nerds unite.

    After lunch, we would have an acting session. There were two acting coaches, both accomplished on the stage, Michael Tolaydo and the previously mentioned Caleen Jennings. Caleen's acting sessions focused mainly on pairing language with physical movement. I was horrible at it, but it was extremely interesting. Tolaydo, who had an odd obsession with Ian McKellan's penis size (seriously), spent his acting sessions focusing on putting scenes on their feet. We would frequently take small scenes and perform them in small groups. This included cutting scenes, blocking them, creating box sets and even doing a dumb show. Tolaydo, who is married to the woman who started the TSI and wrote much of Shakespeare Set Free, also invited us all to his home for a barbeque. They have a stunning house with a library worth drooling over. That first day at the Folger, we also got a chance to go see Tolaydo's one man show, The Gospel of Saint Mark.

    After the acting session, we would have tea. Seriously. At 3pm every day, the library shuts down and everyone goes for tea and cookies in the tea room. It was fantastic. A little too "I want to be British" but still fantastic.

    After tea, we would have our curriculum session. The curriculum sessions were led by Sue Biondo-Hench, a Pennsylvania teacher who was a participant in the first TSI in the 80's and wrote the Romeo and Juliet chapter of Shakespeare Set Free. Michael LoMonico (The Shakespeare Book of Lists and Shakespeare 101) and Shade Gomez (a former TSI participant and a doctoral candidate at NYU) also ran the curriculum sessions. In those sessions, we focused on how to use technology in creative ways for teaching Shakespeare. We also had guest speakers for the curriculum sessions, the most notable being Joe Scortese from www.awaytoteach.com. The coolest technology we worked on was probably a toss up between the website, www.chinswing.com and the program photostory3. We used the former to create verbal discussion groups (and roommate Mike and I plan to use it later this school year to create a two school discussion group for King Lear) and the latter to illuminate texts in different ways.

    The first Friday, we had the option of going to a MLB game, but I had a family reunion and skipped the ballgame. Saturday was research time in the library and Sunday was usually our own. Every Wednesday night, we met in a classroom at Georgetown to see a movie version of that week's play (except for Lear, but more on that later).

    While we were there, we were responsible for creating three products:
    1- A 3-5 page research paper based on analysis of original sources (we had access to 400 year old books, why not play with them, right?)

    2- A curriculum project consisting of at least 5 lesson plans that incorporates technology in some way (I think this was a stipulation of the NEH grant).

    3- A 5 to 10 minute scene from any Shakespearean play to be performed on the last day.

    I'm off to be productive now, but I'll post three more (one for each week) at a later time, because I still have to tell you about: cell phones, plagues, my shelf, meeting Iceblink, the specifics of my projects, weblinks, kids doing pushups, dancing, drinking, the butler from the Nanny, New Jersey and the last day.
     
  12. Iceblink

    Iceblink Member

    Oct 11, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Ipswich Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Shakewho? This sounds like a highlight to me!
     
  13. royalstilton

    royalstilton New Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    SoCal
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    TMI

    I taught Othello to an 11th grade AP English class last term. When I told them that there was some critical speculation that Iago had sexual feelings for Othello, a couple of kids in the class mentioned Ian McKellan's penis size, too.

    Not really.
     

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